LETTER OF THE WEEK: Let’s cut number of county MPs and save some money

Loooking down on The Houses of Parliament from the London Eye.  
June 22, 2002.
See Family Fun Break travel story... PPP-160815-124646001
Loooking down on The Houses of Parliament from the London Eye. June 22, 2002. See Family Fun Break travel story... PPP-160815-124646001

Research carried out by the Electoral Reform Society has discovered that more than 100 Lords and Peers of the Realm in the House of Lords haven’t even been seen or heard of, so to speak, from making any contributions whatsoever to the House’s many debates,

Nevertheless, this still hasn’t stopped them from claiming a staggering £1.3m in a single year of taxpayer-funded expenses.

To claim the daily allowance, which I believe is about £300, surely one has to attend and actually participate in the democratic process?

Anything less must be tantamount to fraud. This is no different to an unscrupulous tradesman billing you for job or a service that he hasn’t actually performed.

Countless governments have all threatened to reform the House of Lords.

But when it got down to the nitty gritty, they have all turned away and ran with their tails between their legs.

As for the spiralling costs of local governance, Philip Hollobone, the MP for Kettering, has said he wants to see the present seven local authorities which exist in Northamptonshire merged into one unitary authority to save money.

I am all for it, so long as the savings made are invested back into our public services.

While we are at it, why not also reduce the number of Parliamentary constituencies in Northamptonshire from the current seven to two?

Let’s say, for example, North and South Northants.

Based on an MP’s current salary, it would save the county taxpayer almost £400,000 –not including the many thousands of pounds claimed in expenses, and the wages of any assistants they might employ.

The previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, had proposed, in an attempt to keep his party perpetually in office, to alter the Parliamentary boundaries which would have reduced the number of sitting MPs from 650 to 600.

A grand gesture that would have saved the taxpayer £3.8m a year.

An idea which would have seen many of his own Right Honourable Friends and colleagues lose their livelihoods.

Nevertheless, a sacrifice that he was still prepared to make in order to make it nigh on impossible for the electorate to choose another Labour government.

But in all honesty, nobody in their right frame of mind would vote to put themselves out of work.

Which is why in five, 10 or even 20 years time, we will still have 650 sitting MPs, and perhaps in excess of 1,000 Peers of the Realm.

Unless, in the absence of any meaningful electoral reform, we get a few cold winters in the meantime to cull the number of those currently sitting in the House of Lords for us, before they bleed us dry!

Ivan Humphrey

Kettering